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Two 6-week feeding trials were conducted on a total of 112 newly weaned piglets to examine the recently reported growth promoting effects of dietary rare earth elements (REE) in European pig production. Rare earth element-diets were supplemented with a REE-citrate premix of lanthanum and the light lanthanoides cerium, praseodymium and neodymium at 200 mg/kg for 6 weeks after weaning. Overall for both trials, growth performance of REE-citrate and control fed piglets did not differ significantly (p > 0.05). An early enhancive tendency for REE-citrate in trial 1 (feed conversion ratio, FCR -3%, p = 0.15) proved irreproducible in trial 2. In the late period of trial 1, in-feed addition of REE-citrate significantly impaired piglet performance (FCR + 8%, p = 0.01). A cultivation-independent molecular approach, polymerase chain reaction-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis was further applied to assess REE induced alterations in the predominant faecal microbiota from weaning pigs. Calculation of various ecological characteristics does not indicate (p > 0.05) an often discussed selective effect on local microbial composition of dietary REE.